The new dress hangs on the outside of the wardrobe

Writing prompts this week courtesy of Maggie O’Farrell’s My Lover’s Lover – my book of the month reviewed in my September 2023 newsletter.

Becky’s eyelids flutter open. There’s a heavy feeling in her gut, and her head aches like the harbinger of the mother of all hangovers. She didn’t drink last night though, deliberately staying off the flowing champagne for all kinds of reasons.

She rolls over in the huge bed, pulling the duvet closer, wondering if she can sneak another hour of unconsciousness. If she can, whatever is making her ill might be washed away in the cleansing tides of sleep.

But her sticky eyes betray her. They open, and she sees it.

pale apricot party dress

The new dress hangs on the outside of the wardrobe. Its glittery pale apricot gauze hangs in soft folds below a pinched in waist. Below it, on the thick hotel room’s carpet, matching satin apricot shoes stand neatly poised.

Awareness floods through her, starting from the heaviness in her gut, rising up through her sore heart to her throat, to her brain. Her head pounds harder.

Today is the wedding. After today, her hopes will be ashes. She will gather them up, lay them in a box of emptiness in the pit of her stomach, and bang shut the lid of pretended joy.

He will never be hers.

An hysterical giggle rises up her throat. Or will he? Once Becky’s growing, blossoming secret – the one already causing the apricot dress to pinch at the waist, to press too tightly across her breasts – once that’s revealed … who knows?

Her headache softens. She slides out of bed, walks to the dress and lifts its gauzy layers to her cheek. Smiling.

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2 thoughts on “The new dress hangs on the outside of the wardrobe”

  1. Dora could barely contain her excitement as she looked at the new prom dress hanging on the outside of her wardrobe.
    “Mum, mum, I can’t believe it,” she chortled. “it’s finally here.”
    Her mother smiled, knowing how enthusiastic her 16-year-old daughter became at every new item she ever obtained.
    This time was no different – with the added bonus that soon she would be taking part in the school prom to mark the end of the school year before heading off to college.
    “Have you lined up a date yet?” her mother asked.
    Dora bounced up and down on one foot.
    “Not exactly,” she replied. “But Freddie Deakin indicated he would take me.”
    “What do you mean, ‘indicated’?” her mother inquired.
    “Well, he said he’d think about it when I asked him the other day.”
    “So, you haven’t really lined up date, then?”
    “Ah, no.” Crestfallen look followed by brightening smile. “But I’m sure he will. I know he will.”
    Mrs Smithers sighed. So typical of her daughter, the eternal optimist.
    “Don’t you think we should ring Mrs Deakin just to make sure,” she suggested.
    “Oh no, we couldn’t do that,” her daughter quickly retorted. “That would be just sooooo embarrassing.”
    “Well, you only five days until prom night, so I hope Freddie acts quickly,” Mrs Smithers said.
    She left her daughter to admire her new dress and returned to the kitchen to prepare the evening dinner.
    Maybe I should ring Mrs Deakin just to make sure Freddie follows through, she thought.
    She picked up the receiver to dial the Deakin’s number.
    “Hello, Sue? Evelyn here. Dora’s prom dress just arrived today and I thought I’d just confirm that Freddie is still planning to take her to the prom.”
    “Oh, hi Evelyn, yes, well, he was intending to – but haven’t you heard? He was playing football yesterday and badly broke his leg. At the moment he is still in hospital recovering.” She sounded very distressed, almost in tears.
    “Oh, Sue, I am so sorry to hear that. I guess Dora didn’t know.”
    “Not many people did. It all happened so suddenly. One minute he was running with the ball, and the next this boy dived on top of him and his leg got caught underneath.”
    Sue was crying now, unable to contain her grief.
    Evelyn continued to comfort her friend and finally hung up, after saying they would visit Freddie in hospital the next day.
    She heaved a deep sigh. Now came the hard part as she walked slowly back to Dora’s room.
    “Oh, hi Mum, isn’t this dress just the loveliest you’ve ever seen?” she beamed.
    “Sweetheart, I’ve got some very bad news,” she said. “You’d better sit down.”
    What is it?” Dora asked, beginning to look concerned.
    “It’s Freddie,” Evelyn said. “He’s has badly broken his leg and is in hospital – and he won’t be able to go to the prom.”
    Dora’s face went white.
    “What? What do you mean?”
    “He was playing football yesterday and another boy landed on top of him and his leg got caught.”
    Evelyn reached out to comfort her daughter.
    Dora couldn’t contain herself any longer – and through the tearful blur she saw her prom dress still hanging on the outside of the wardrobe. Suddenly, it didn’t look so wonderful, after all.

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